Soldiers participate in the new Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention pilot program to enhance training for sexual assault response coordinators or SARCs, victim advocates, or VAs, and instructors, on Fort Belvoir.

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Feb. 18, 2014) -- The Army has launched a new Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention pilot program to enhance training for sexual assault response coordinators or SARCs, victim advocates, or VAs, and instructors.

The pilot class, which kicked off Jan. 27, on Fort Belvoir, runs eight weeks and is designed to better prepare Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, personnel for the kinds of situations they are likely to encounter and to help eliminate sexual assault and harassment in the military.

Marcellus Anderson, SHARP program manager, Military District of Washington, said students in the pilot program are mainly new civilian employees who will eventually replace the current contracted instructors of the two-week SHARP certification course, as well as select SARCs and VAs from across the Army.

The program will bolster students' skills in conflict resolution, conducting training to other SHARP personnel and helping victims in need. Curriculum will include material from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Office of Judge Advocate General and Office of the Surgeon General.

By the end of the eight-week period, students will be able to train SARCs and VAs and be proficient in the Department of Defense's policy for their commanders, Anderson said. Schoolhouse graduates with this "big-picture" policy knowledge will enhance the Army's ability to prepare other SHARP professionals, he said.

And officials agree that sexual harassment and assault is a problem that needs fixing.

"This is the number one priority in the military," Anderson told a roomful of Soldiers who started the 80-hour certification class Feb. 3, in Spates Community Center. "It is a cancer that destroys units."

Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, reinforced the issue's importance.

"I have always believed that we in the military are family," he said, calling sexual harassment and assault "heinous."

Buchanan said he would ideally like to see zero instances of sexual harassment and assault in the military and that it had to start with the SHARP program, as well as a change in the culture.

Once the pilot program ends March 28, officials will analyze and determine whether a permanent curriculum for full-time personnel will be established to standardize SHARP knowledge and information.

Page last updated Tue February 18th, 2014 at 00:00